The ability to carry out sample preparation in microgravity using a small footprint, versatile device and extensible cartridges in an enclosed format will introduce the ability to carry out sample preparation for molecular biology tests from a variety of sample matrices (cell culture, plant tissue, blood, swab, etc.). The unit can also be easily coupled with suitable downstream detection modules to expand its capabilities to include processes such as PCR, isothermal amplification, and sequencing. With the development of proper assays, new applications can be extended to include microbial detection in advanced life support systems, in-vitro testing for infectious diseases during space flight, gene expression analysis for radiation exposure monitoring/studies, and effect of space flight on microbial gene expression and virulence. These processes can be completed inside the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox (MSG) or disposable glove bag to minimize sample transfer or contamination concerns. By offering a medium throughput sample preparation platform, our VSPP unit will enable researchers and companies to carry out in-situ life sciences research inside the ISS with near real-time result capability when coupled with appropriate detection systems.
With advances in molecular diagnostics, life science, and forensics, there will be a vast increase in demand for instrumentation that can handle automated sample preparation in a closed format to eliminate cross-contamination. According to a recent report by Markets and Markets, the global nucleic acid isolation and purification market is expected to reach $3.8 billion USD by 2020. Increasing healthcare expenditure will aid the growth of the nucleic acid isolation and purification market. Our unit also has the capability to carry out molecular detection by isothermal amplification. We see it as a great opportunity to offer at-home healthcare diagnostics. Other applications of this VSPP include environmental monitoring, agriculture, and food production safety.